The Future is the Shelf Edge

The digital world is infiltrating all aspects of grocery stores and supermarkets. Whether that be blockchain allowing consumers to track food from farm to store or gathering customer data through a loyalty program to offer tailored promotions. It has now even taken over one of the oldest parts of a store, the shelf but more specifically its edge. Paper and vinyl tags will soon become a thing of the past. The days of printing shelf tags and replacing them anytime a price changes or a sale is implemented will soon be a distant memory. Not only will these digital shelf edges allow you to change prices instantly it will also allow customers to look at online reviews or ratings of any product at the shelf while shopping. How’s that for point of purchase marketing?

There hasn’t been much implementation of digital or electronic shelf edges in the United States yet but the UK has shown much success with utilizing this technology and all the advantages it offers. There are two separate types of digital shelf technologies. One uses the whole shelf edge as a digital display while another option looks more like a small digital tag. I will be focusing on the complete shelf edge as I find it has more benefits than the digital tag.

76% of purchasing decision are made at the shelf. The digital shelf edge allows your store and the brands you offer to engage with the customer at the moment of decision. There are several different ways to catch the customers attention. Price is a major driving factor in purchasing decisions. The digital shelf edge would allow you to change prices in real time and even initiate a “flash” sale in one or multiple locations. This is also where you could display a promotion like buy 2 get one free or 2 for $5. Then as soon as the promotion is over you can instantly change it back to displaying the price or product information. If there is no special deal or promo running you could simply put an advertisement on the shelf edge for the displayed products. This could be the products slogan, logo or celebrity endorsement. Some endorsements are with movies or Television shows and this would be a great way to promote these partnerships. You could run a commercial featuring an actor or cartoon that advertises the product at the shelf. This would encourage those impulse buys or atleast add stopping power to those items. The shelf edge is a great place to show additional information making the product seem as transparent as possible. An Italian based product went as far as to show their products ratings and comments at the shelf. Giving the customer the opportunity to see what other shoppers think or have said about their product online.

Cutting costs and maximizing store labor is extremely important to improving the bottom line of any grocery store. After digital shelves are installed in a store you would be able to eliminate the cost and labor associated with printing paper or vinyl tags. Employees would no longer have to physically remove and replace price tags as these could be changed in real time as mentioned before. This would allow your store to match competitors throughout the day or simply change pricing at the push of a button. The electronic shelf is also capable of keeping track of where products are in the store allowing you to maintain a live planogram. When moving products or rearranging aisles the digital shelf edge would help employees know exactly where a product needs to go cutting back the time a reset takes. With this tech at your fingertips you would be able to plan layouts and promos digitally. In theory this would even translate to customers being able to download a shopping list with a map on a device taking them through the aisles and directly to the products on their list. All of this working together ensures that the information at the shelf is as accurate and useful possible.

Kroger has been one of the first to put this technology to the test in the US. They worked with Microsoft to develop their own digital shelf technology called EDGE. Kroger recently deployed its new shelf EDGE in its test store and found that customers are very open and accepting of the new technology with most preferring it over the traditional shelf tags. With anything getting customers to accept change is always the hardest part but it looks like they are ready for the digital age of shelf edges. Keep in mind this change definitely isn’t something that would happen overnight. Finding the right technology partner is vital to a successful innovation of your stores shelf edge. Now more than ever it is important to start thinking about these new advances as we all know technology moves like a wildfire once it starts to catch on.

I grew up in a small town in Northern Missouri that if you blinked while driving through you’d miss it. After high school I attended Northwest Missouri State University (OABAAB) where I graduated with a degree in Marketing & Management. Outside of work I enjoy all Kansas City sports teams (even though the Chiefs constantly break my heart) and going to any concert in KC area worth listening to. I also enjoy the outdoors, my animals, and spending time with my family.